Monday, September 26, 2016

Pigeons, Hay Bales, Sunrises, Chickens And Fruit

The fantail pigeons only produced two babies this summer, and both of them died. But then this this lovely bird hatched one squab and fed it carefully:

 It fell to the floor on its second day, but since the parents were feeding and tending to it, I left it alone:

 It began to grow rapidly, sprouting feathers. I am hopeful that this little one will grow up and join the flock. There has been a second baby born since then and it too is doing well:

 A neighbor spent more than a week cutting, tedding (turning it over to dry in the sun) and baling the hay in my north field. I'd already filled the first floor with hay from another field, so my portion from this field went up into the hay loft. Electric bale elevators are marvelous inventions:

 And early in the morning, the parked haying equipment looked stunning in the rosy glow of sunrise:

 Wild blackberries ripened and I didn't even have to go looking for them. I stopped my riding mower and ate these right next to the lawn without even getting off the mower:

 I don't often see the fantail pigeons, the "baby" chicks and the adult hens all together, but some of each were all hanging out by the barn mini-door on this day:

 The eight remaining hens now live full time with the youngsters, though they diverge into two separate flocks the moment they get outdoors:

 I see a lot of glorious sunrises, but this one was the best so far. It was even more colorful that the photo and seemed almost to pulse above the foggy northeast field:

When I rang the bell to call in the cows that same morning, this was the morning sky over the southeastern field, which also was covered with fog. The cows and horses, by the way, refused to come in that morning and I had to wait until late afternoon to give them grain:

 I was taken aback when I saw these berries in my giant Lilac bush. They were on Virginia Creeper vines and perhaps the first time I've seen Virginia Creeper berries - or, more likely, the first time I truly took note of them:

 Some varmint, probably a rabbit, had been gnawing my windfall apples. I finally figured out who was eating them. It was my own hens, strolling beneath the apple trees, with a peck peck here and a peck peck there. I can still feed most of the apples to the cows, but some are so thoroughly demolished that I can't even do that. These were three good, still usable apples:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Homegrown Tattooing And Tagging

One of the things which I've found most difficult is tattooing and tagging the ears of the calves. The tattooing is required for registering them as purebred Red Polls and the ear tag is necessary for me (and future owners) to tell them apart. When Rosella was born two years ago, I walked out into the field and tattooed her ears before she was old enough to object. Alas, that has never worked since, either because I couldn't find where the mom had hidden her calf or because the mom wouldn't leave them alone. This year, Rosella's first baby, Tabitha, was three weeks old before I got her locked in the barn and called the neighbors to come over and give me a hand. This is what Tabitha looked like before her tattoo:

Tabitha was a bucking bronco of a calf and I only was able to slip a rope around her neck and tie it to a steel post. She soon dislodged the post so I moved her to another post:

She continued to fight at the new post so I tried to comfort her. But she wanted no part of it and resisted with everything she had. When the neighbors came over, it took three of us to wrestle her onto the ground and hold her steady:

I applied green tattoo ink to the insides of her ears and then squeezed the tattoo pliers shut, poking holes into the skin with ink in them. I then added a red plastic tag to her right ear and sent her out to Rosella, her mother. She immediately wanted to nurse. There was ink around her eyes, making her look a bit like an alien panda:

Rosella nuzzled her, winding up with green ink on her nose, but the job was done - my own private little rodeo:


I wanted to find an easier way for the next calf, so when Maggie was born, I'd already made a "calf catcher" by lining the hay bale feeder with plastic snow fence and hanging it from the tractor's bale spear. I was ready to go:

When Maggie was one day old, I drove the tractor out to where the cattle were lounging and dropped the catcher over her. I'd brought along a ladder to get me in and out of the ring, so I wrestled little Maggie to the ground by myself and tattooed her ears, adding an ear tag when I was finished. Her mom, Scarlett, couldn't get in and Maggie couldn't get out. It worked quite well. When done, I released her and she immediately ran to Scarlett to nurse. That's why there's milk foam in her mouth:

The poor little thing was a bit traumatized, but I think it was less so at one day old than at three weeks:

Red Polls are great mothers and take good care of their babies. They also have an abundance of milk, which surely helps:

Poor little Maggie was covered with green for a week or so but recovered well:

As the excess green slowly faded, she began to look better and better. She had again just finished nursing when I took this picture, and there was milk foam in her mouth and splattered on her side. Now all the wrestling and rodeo is over, the calves are marked in the required manner and they are free to live a happy life with their mother and their herd:

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Little Horses, Never A Dull Moment

Blue and Remy eat in separate stalls to keep them from fighting over their food. It also keeps the cows from trying to take their food. The wide, flat bottomed pans have worked well except that the little imps use them as drums when they've finished their food. They also then begin chewing all the wood around the stall in spite of the Ivory Liquid I've painted it with to prevent chewing:

Remy runs to see me the minute I arrive in the field or barn. That is partly to be friendly, partly to cause mischief and partly to see if I brought anything to eat:

Most of their day is spent with the cows, to whom they seem quite attached. The cows, I've noticed, don't seem to feel the same attachment to Blue and Remy:

The horses have learned about apples and run to grab some before the cows get them all. They do not, however, try to steal them from the big cows. The cattle are too big and too crabby:

When little Maggie was newborn, Blue and Remy were hanging around and trying to get in close for a better look. Scarlett, however, kept chasing them away:

Remy (short for Remington):

Blue (short for Coyote Blue, named for his blue eyes):

Blue has been getting fatter and the vet advised me to put him on a diet. I've cut the grain in half and then cut it again, but my fields have a lot of grass and he seems to process it well:

With the new calves and my bad ankles, I've taken to driving out into the south field rather often:


But I'm mobbed by two pushy little horses as soon as I arrive:


"Whatcha got, Dad? Anything good? Hmmmmm?"


I left my car windows down and stepped away for just a minute. Remy reached his head in through the window and bit off a chunk of my steering wheel. I glued it back on but it didn't work well so I had to buy a steering wheel cover. I also learned not to leave the windows down. I already knew not to leave my keys in the car. I just know that Blue and Remy would find a way to lock me out: